It’s the New Year! Have you made any resolutions? Do any of those resolutions involve your home? Well, they should. Your home is your castle. It is the place where you find peace and a place to recharge. Making your home a reflection of the person you hope to be this new year will make reaching your goals even easier!
Here are four New Year’s resolutions for home decorating to help you get started.
1. Clear the Clutter!!!
A clutter free home is an important step to clutter free fitness, finances, parenting, marriage, you name it. When we clean up the physical mess we are also cleaning up our attitude and outlook without even knowing it. When is the last time a messy, cluttered kitchen made you happy? Never, you say? Well, do something about it! Clear out clutter.
Resolve to clear clutter in steps. It’s indeed overwhelming to look at your whole house and imagine tackling it all at once, not stopping until it’s finished. Instead, approach it on a room-by-room basis, resolving to clear the clutter from, say, one room a month. You could even begin with corners of rooms to make it even less overwhelming – say, clear the clutter from one corner of the living room every Saturday for four weeks. Then move on to the next room or area.
2. Organize Your Stuff
You won’t be throwing away or donating everything – there will be “stuff” you’ll need to organize and store in a way that’s aesthetically pleasing. Here are some suggestions.
* Baskets are definitely your friend. Baskets can be used to hold items like shoes by the front door, CDs, DVDs, remote controls, and all those adapters for cell phones and computers. Plus they can be bought second hand. My local thrift stores are swimming in baskets.
* Decorative boxes are also handy. They can be slipped onto shelves and look like decorative pieces but they’re actually holding stuff.
* Metal baskets with an without canvas liners are awesome on shelves.
* Luggage can be a great place to store things when it is not being used to travel. Vintage luggage might even look nice enough to keep out as part of your decor.
* Check out my post on Plastic-Free Storage Solutions!
3. Healthy Decorations
A good goal for this year is to bring in houseplants. They are not only beautiful; they detoxify indoor air. Sources say this is even more important if you have a lot of electronics in a room. Another beautiful item that can increase the health factor of your home is an essential oil diffuser. Diffuse therapeutic essential oils in your home to keep you well and to enhance your health. Plus they make your home smell incredible!
4. Go Minimalist
Clearing clutter is important but not bringing it into your home in the first place is a preemptive step. It is also easier and less stressful to live with minimalism in mind. A big trend in books and media has been getting back to a simplistic, minimal lifestyle. Many want to have a life that is free of complications; a life that has been pared down to its most basic and fundamental needs. Minimalist decor is no muss no fuss. Get rid of all those couch cushions. Get rid of all those knick-knacks. Pair down to one bookcase full of your absolute favorite books. Stream videos instead of buying them. Stop buying toys!
Declare that this year will be the year that your home becomes a reflection of your hopes and dreams. When it does you will see that your dreams look more attainable.
Glass storage dishes are classic and classy. They are what moms decades ago used to store their extra food and leftovers. Vintage Pyrex refrigerator dishes anyone??? Then we had to go and get all “modern” and start using plastic. Why did we DO that? Why did we mess with such a good thing?
Yes, glass usually does have a problem with breakage but plastic has its own issues, many of them. Did we really need to be so concerned about glass breaking that we had to start mass producing an alternative that is so indestructable it will sit in landfills FOREVER. In addition to the fool hardy practice of filling our planet with plastic it also has many unsavory chemicals in it and the propensity to leach them into things it comes in contact with. Plastics used to store food often have BPA, PVC, and phthalates. They are all things we don’t want to come into contact with let alone eat.
BPA or Bisphenol A is a hormone mimicking chemical that can cause a lot of health problems, especially for children. PVC is known as the poison plastic. Phthalates are a family of industrial chemicals that are used as plastic softeners or solvents. They can damage the liver, the kidney and the reproductive organs. Why exactly do these sound like safe ingredients for dishes to store food in? Call me baffled!
This page highlights some great alternatives for storing your food, alternatives that don’t use harmful chemicals. Don’t go to all the trouble of feeding your family healthy meals only to store them in toxic containers. Just say no to plastic.
The first thing you can do is look to see what you can recycle and reuse so that you don’t have to buy anything new. Buy your food in glass whenever possible and then you have glass to reuse.
Pickle and kraut jars
Pasta sauce jars
Coconut oil jars
All these things can be saved and used to store food in after you give them a good cleaning. Store your leftovers, sugar, dried goods, pre-cut veggie snacks, anything you could ever need or want to store you can store with stuff you already buy typically. If you lose the lids or they get rusty try these silicone food savers (below). They actually stretch to fit containers perfectly. You can even put them on canned goods to re-seal.
The next step is to see what you can buy second hand? Why buy new when you can buy used and save items from being tossed into the landfill? Check out thrift stores, estate sales, yard sales, and Craigslist to find what you need. There are lost of vintage glass refrigerator dishes out there to be had…I find them all the time.
If and when you do need to buy new though look into these options…
Glasslock Snapware Tempered Glass Food Storage Containers with Lids 20 Piece Set – If you need lots of food storage containers then this is a good buy. Donate all your plastic ones and start fresh maybe?
Lifefactory Glass Food Storage with Silicone Sleeve – Lifefactory makes some awesome glass water bottles. I have several. So I was super pleased to see that they now have glass food storage and refrigerator dishes. The silicone sleeve makes them less breakable and thus a good way to transport leftovers in your lunchbag the next day. There are three different sizes.
Abeego Flats Food Storage Liners – These can replace suran wrap, tin foil, and even plastic food storage bags. They are slightly adhesive and malleable at room temperature but they stiffen when cooled – holding the shape you created. This means you can take all kinds of foods on the go from sandwiches and wraps, to fruits and veggies and more. Made of all natural materials: hemp, organic cotton, beeswax, tree resin jojoba oil, and hand washable with soap and water.
Flip & Tumble Reusable Produce Bags – I love these bags and have many of them myself. You can take these with you shopping and collect loose fruits, veggies, grains, beans, etc. at the store, bulk bins, or at the farmer’s market. Then you can store them in the same bags if you wish and you never have to take the flimsy plastic produce bags from the store.
Not only is plastic free getting easier, the options above look better too!
Follow these tips and your cast iron pots and pans will last forever.
#1 Use it often – Unlike so many other types of cookware the more you use cast iron the better it will work. Amazing.
#2 Show some respect – If you take care of your cast iron you will end up handing it off to the next generation in the same condition in which you received it.
#3 Clean after each use – Don’t throw it in the sink and forget about it. You need to cleanup afterwards, right after cooking. Rinse with hot water while the pan is still warm/hot.
#4 Don’t do it! – Never wash cast iron with soap and never put it in the dishwasher.
#5 Scour when needed – Use as stiff bristle brush and/or some course salt to scrub when needed.
#6 Water works – When you have grime and caked on food just add a bit of water and place the cookware back on the hot burner, bring to a boil. This will usually get rid of any food debris and you don’t even need to scrub.
#7 Dry & oil – Don’t throw these in the dish rack to dry or put them away when still slightly wet. Dry them completely off after washing put them back on the burner for a couple minutes. Use a towel to rub a thin layer of vegetable oil on the inside.
#8 Store them right – Keep cast iron in a cool dry place with good air flow. For pots and pans with lids a thin towel placed between the pan and the lid will allow for air flow.
#9 Keep it seasoned. Cast iron creates it own no-stick surface via seasoning. To season, coat the pan well with vegetable oil and bake at 400 degrees for one hour. Re-season as needed. Seasoned cast iron is shiny, smooth and non-stick!
#10 Get rid of rust – If you were neglectful and your cast iron got rusty or you pickled it up secondhand looking sad just use steel wool to scrub away rust and re-season when completely dry.
Carrier oils and butters become something of interest when you want to start making your own beauty products, herb infused oils, and when you want to use essential oils for beauty and for wellness. A carrier oil “carries” the beauty product or essential oil to broad area of the body. Imagine if you will, putting a drop or two of lavender oil on your fingers. How far will those drops of lavender go? How much skin can be covered? The answer is not much. This is why a carrier oil or butter comes in handy. Not only does it dilute more potent ingredients, it also allows you reach more skin with your homemade creations.
Here are some of the common carrier oils and butters and their benefits. Whenever possible go for a cold-pressed oil. Cheaper refined oils have gone through extra processes to remove odor, remove color, and lengthen shelf life. These processes also remove some of the therapeutic components.
Sweet Almond Oil – Derived from the kernals of sweet almonds. It is fine, emollient, and great for dry, normal, and combination skin types. It is good for recipes designed to soothe itching, cracking, and inflammation.
Apricot Kernal Oil – Very similar to almond oil and suitable for all skins types.
Avocado Oil – My personal favorite. It is a dark green oil rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, D, and E. It is very rich and nourishing and great for sensitive and dry skin. All of the vitamins make it amazing for reducing scars and age spots. The vitamin E content helps preserve other oils in any blends you make.
Cocoa Butter – A solid fat rich in antioxidants and vitamin E. Use it for body butters and lotion bars. It has the aroma of chocolate so be aware when you are adding other oils.
Coconut Oil – A wonderful lubricant that is not greasy, extracted from the fat in the meat of coconuts. Use it to make oil blends, soaps, and personal care products. Use fractionated coconut oil if you want a liquid consistency.
Evening Primrose Oil – Made from the seeds of the evening primrose. It is great or mature skin and a variety of skin conditions. Also great for the hair and scalp.
Grapeseed Oil – Produced from grape seeds. It is light, clear, ungreasy, and unscented making it a great all around carrier oil.
Jojoba Wax – This is a liquid wax made from beans of the Jojoba plant. It is very similar to our own skin’s sebum (natural moisturizer) so it is good for all skin types. Great for lotions and massage oils and the shelf life is 25 years!
Macadamia Nut Oil – Solvent free processing means that all the natural therapeutic qualities are retained. Leaves the skin supple and not greasy. Penetrates deep for quick delivery of essential oils.
Olive Oil – This oil is skin softening and emollient. Extra virgin is also cold pressed and has a high vitamin and minerals content. Due to the stronger aroma though it is not as favorable for essential oils usage.
Rosehip Seed Oil – Very high in vitamin C and rejuvenating to the skin. Great for blends that treat wounds, burns, and damaged tissue.
Shea Butter – A natural fat from the fruit of the Shea tree. It is anti-inflammatory and helpful in skin regeneration and healing.
Sunflower oil – This oil needs to be organic and cold pressed. High in vitamin E and very cost effective.
Now that you know some of the basics about various carrier oils get busy making some of your own healthier and safer beauty and wellness products!
Spices and seasonings have a lot to offer by way of health benefits. They aren’t just for making your food taste amazing, they can also do amazing things for your health and wellness. This is typically the “season” for stress, over indulging in empty calories, and also getting sick so we might as well add some “seasoning” to kick our wellness efforts up a notch.
Clove – Clove has one of the highest antioxidant rankings of any spice. This makes it excellent for antiaging. Add it to fruit salads, mulled cider, or spicy curries.
Cumin – This is what gives Mexican food it’s fire. It has also been shown in studies to reduce levels of bad cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and significantly lower blood sugar. This makes it a powerful fighter in the war against type 2 diabetes.
Cinnamon – This is another great spice for blood sugar and preventing or controlling diabetes. Take one teaspoon daily in fall soups (pumpkin, squash) or on sweet potatoes.
Anise – Helps with tummy troubles and digestion. It actually relaxes your gastrointestinal muscles and provides you with relief.
Sage – Helps with mental clarity and memory. Perhaps this is why a profoundly wise person is called a sage??
Horseradish – This seasoning is a natural antibiotic and infection fighter. It can be taken to fight everything from bronchitis to UTIs.
Thyme – The antioxidants in thyme help with respiratory issues such as bronchitis. It just helps you breathe easier. Roast it along with meats, and add to seafood and soups.
Fennel Seed – This seed can help relive menstrual cramps and pain just as effectively and sometimes more effectively than those using the drug.
Turmeric – This spice is antiaging, it helps boost immunity, it fights disease by inhibiting the metastasis of cancer cells, and it helps you maintain a healthy weight. It is amazing.
It might be the season for stress and illness but a little “seasoning” can help!